The billionaire philanthropist and sworn enema of the mosquito highlighted the dangers of a worldwide outbreak and five years ago explained what needed to be put in place to deal with it.
However, like his insistence that the tablet and the smartphone were going places, Gates call went unnoticed. Now he says the world must work together to overcome the coronavirus.
He had unusually blunt words for US President Donald Trump who said this week that he wants ‘the country opened up again’ by Easter.
Gates said: "It’s very tough to tell people, ‘Hey, keep going to restaurants, go buy new houses, ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner, we want you to keep spending because there’s some politician that thinks GDP growth is what counts’", from his home in Seattle.
‘It’s hard to tell people during an epidemic… that they should go about things knowing their activity is spreading this disease."
Gates acknowledged that the shutdown in the US would be ‘disastrous’ for the country’s economy. He also reiterated how long he feels the shutdown needs to be in place to contain the virus.
According to Gates, it will take between six and ten weeks of a shutdown to turn the tide. Crucially, this timeframe isn’t to conquer the virus but rather to allow the American health service to cope with the influx.
He pointed out that wealthy countries, such as the UK and US, will likely fare better than developing nations. "With the right actions, including the testing and social distancing, within 2-to-3 months, the rich countries should have avoided high levels of infection", he wrote.
"I worry about all the economic damage, but even worse will be how this will affect the developing countries who cannot do the social distancing the same way as rich countries and whose hospital capacity is much lower. Most rich countries should be able to achieve a low level of infections. Some developing countries will not be able to do that."